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Supreme Court judge confirms that Brexit is "not legally binding"

So does Brexit still mean Brexit?

Supreme Court judge confirms that Brexit is "not legally binding"
16 November 2016

When the High Court ruled two weeks ago that the government couldn’t trigger Article 50 without parliament approval, everyone began wondering what that means for Brexit.

Will the Supreme Court make the same ruling next month? Does Brexit still mean Brexit, or will “Hard Brexit” now be a floppy, healf-hearted sort of Brexit?

We may have some indication of what the Supreme Court will rule, at least, as a judge hearing the case has said that the EU referendum was “not legally binding on Parliament”.

Lady Brenda Hale made the comments in Kula Lumpar, while giving a speech on constitutional law. She will be one of 11 Supreme Court justices who will hear the government’s appeal when the case begins on 5 December.  

As reported by The Independent, Lady Hale said that the case is of “fundamental constitutional importance”.

The legality of Brexit was first called into question after someone suddenly remembered the government had previously promised the referendum was only advisory and “cannot be legally binding”. Another sizeable blow to the Leave Campaign’s bid to actually leave.

Investment manager Gina Miller and a coalition of concerned citizens called the “Peoples’ Challenge” originally brought the case to the High Court, which ruled parlimentray consent was needed before triggering Article 50. Teresa May and the government have appealed the decision, so the Supreme Court will now decide whether the High Court was right to make the ruling.

The case is expected to last three days and a judgment given by the end of December – which means it could be a very merry Brexit for everyone. Or not. 

It’s not been a good week for Brexiteers. A memo from private consultancy firm Deloitte leaked to The Times revealed that Whitehall was struggling to cope with sheer scale of the work involved with Brexit – with a potential 30,000 extra workers needed to handle it – and that there’s “no common strategy” between the government departments overseeing Brexit. The government has rejected these claims though, claiming Deloitte’s report was “unsolicited”.

Lady Hale has now reiterated issues of its legality by saying, “As is well known, the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave or remain in the European Union produced a majority of 51.8 per cent in favour of leaving. But that referendum was not legally binding on Parliament.”

Whether these comments will reflect the Supreme Court’s overall judgement remains to be seen. But it sounds like the dilly dallying over whether Brexit does indeed mean Brexit could continue, delaying our exit from Europe even further.